Tag Archives: diet

How to Beat the Sweets: The Gradual Approach

BY MELISSA TUCKER, RHN, Training Coach & PURICA Ambassador

If the thought of cutting out every last gram of sugar sounds impossible – especially the idea of going cold turkey – maybe we could simply reset the goal. Cutting back gradually may be more effective in the long run.

Here are a five Fitlicious ways to help cut your sugar intake without feeling deprived. I really believe they’ll give you big returns:

  1. Start your day with a no-added-sugar breakfast, because starting your day right sets the tone and balances your blood sugar for your remaining meals;
  2. Use cinnamon and 1 tablespoon protein Chaga powder instead of sugar in your coffee. It helps curb sugar cravings and balance energy;
  3. Replace sugar and fat laden ice-cream with Fitlicious 3 ingredient banana ice cream (yes, only three ingredients);
  4. Craving a chocolate fudge Brownie? Have a Perfect Date instead! For a single serving after dinner dessert, simply remove the pit of a Medjool date and replace it with a tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of raw cacao nibs and unsweetened coconut flakes. You’ll love it;
  5. Make protein, fibre and healthy fats the building blocks of your meals and snacks. These nutrients slow down the digestion process and prevent quick blood sugar spike and crash. That’s important, because a sudden drop in blood sugar can cause extreme sugar cravings.

Most importantly remember, you’re human. You don’t need to be perfect. Give your taste buds and brain time to adjust to lower sugar intake by reducing your sugar intake a little bit each week until you reach your new goal.

(Recommended PURICA superfoods and supplements: PURICA Trimactiv, PURICA Power vegan protein powder; PURICA Nopal, PURICA Fiberlicious and Garcinaia Cambogia).

Just Because It’s Common, It Doesn’t Mean It’s Normal

BY MELISSA TUCKER, RHN, Training Coach & PURICA Ambassador

At least 85 per cent of menstruating women experience a symptom of PMS every cycle. Does this staggering number mean that having PMS is normal? No, it means it’s common. Just because something is common, does not mean you need to accept it as normal.

In my experience as a woman and health coach, I’ve concluded that by reducing inflammation in the body, many if not all premenstrual symptoms of cramping, bloating, sugar cravings and mood swings can be reduced and often ultimately eliminated.

For my clients who report mild to extreme PMS, I apply system support on the strength of the following PURICA products:

A recent study found that women who have higher levels of inflammatory proteins are more likely to suffer from PMS symptoms such as mood problems, cramps, back pain, cravings, bloating and breast pain.

To lower inflammatory proteins you must detox your body: Remove alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed flours and inflammatory fats such as those found in full-fat dairy products, red meats, peanuts, margarines, shortening and hydrogenated oils from your diet.

Incorporating some vegan meals or days into your weekly nutrition program can also help lower acidity and inflammation. With the new PURICA Power vegan protein powder, it’s easy to incorporate an alternative to whey isolates. PURICA Power also has the added antioxidant support of Chaga. The fermented PURICA Power vegan protein powders get my two thumbs up first of all because they taste great and also because they are more bioavailable pre and post workout than other non-fermented, or soy- based vegan powders.

The best way to make PMS “MIA” is to:

  • Rest. Drink More Water.
  • Limit Alcohol, caffeine and salt and at any time of month stay committed to healthy whole foods.

Balance lean proteins such as organic chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, omega-3 eggs and legumes, healthy fats such as coconut, olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc. and a variety of complex carbohydrates including vegetables, fruits, kamut, beans, rye, oats, and quinoa every three to four hours during the day. This will stabilize blood sugars and avoid undue stress and hormonal imbalance because of skipped meals.

What to Do If You Have Inflammation Acne?

By Melissa Tucker, RHN

We might not think of it this way, but the skin is our largest organ. As such, it provides an outward reflection of the quality of your health deeper within.

That’s especially true of your complexion and whether you are dealing with acne. If you fall into this category – and many of us do – I suggest taking a close look at your diet and the other common contributors to inflammation (listed below) to help you on your way to healthier skin and better looking skin.

So often we treat a pimple or acne breakout with a new expensive topical product, when in fact, inflammation rather than a clogged surface pore is what lead to your breakout. Blocked pores set the stage for acne, but chronic inflammation is the engine that fuels it and maintains it as a problem for us.

The causes of chronic inflammation are many. In the majority of circumstances, it is not one particular problem that leads to chronic stress outbreaks, but dozens of poor dietary and lifestyle choices.

Any one of the following in isolation would not cause a huge inflammatory response but when they begin to add up – and they become a regular part of your life – the burden on your body becomes too much, resulting in stress pimples, or adult acne.

Here’s your checklist to consider:

A poor diet:

Eating too many processed foods is a leading cause of chronic inflammation. A prime example of this is the trans-fat, which is notorious for causing inflammation. Artificial ingredients in processed foods are inflammatory as well, because our body just cannot process them very well. When consumed in abundance the inflammatory response begins and can carry over to appear as a food allergy to other natural food ingredients.

Sleep deprivation:

The lack of sleep can cause elevations in inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals, making sleep deprivation one of the quickest ways to disrupt hormonal balance, energy levels, digestion and skin health. Get your sleep! And you can help yourself out on that front by paying attention to the next factor.

Lack of exercise:

Sitting around all day can cause inflammation because there is lack of circulation. Moderate exercise will reduce chronic inflammation. Breaking a sweat is one of the most effective ways to eliminate toxins from your body and improve skin and overall health. #MoveItToLoseIt (It will also help you sleep).

Not getting enough support:

The power to support the immune system that is provided by high quality vitamins, minerals and other supplemental adaptogens is undeniable. A prime example is zinc, which by the way is famous for curing acne. Other dietary factors include getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, Magnesium and Vitamin C to give skin a more radiant, healthy and youthful glow.

Paying attention to your diet, getter better sleep and exercising regularly are the real keys here. Yet I strongly recommend supplementing with vitamins C and D, immunity products such as PURICA Complete 360 and whole body health formulations such as PURICA Recovery will go a long way towards improving skin health and mitigating against inflammation acne.

I also recommend minerals such as PURICA Magnesium and medicinal mushrooms such as PURICA Red Reishi and PURICA Chaga. The latter is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet while Reishi can calm your system down, helping to combat the stress that often triggers acne.

Healthy Skin, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind! 

Survive, Revive and Thrive Through Your Coffee Breakup

Here’s Melissa’s second cup of tips to help you take a break from coffee and the side effects of caffeine.

If you brewed some inspiration from our recent blog on Managing Your Cup(s) of Coffee which was designed to help you take a break from coffee or even break your coffee habit for good — you will be happy to know that we’re following up here with some great tips and life hacks to help you survive the withdrawal, revive your energy and thrive through your coffee break.

It’s really all about avoiding the withdrawal symptoms!

The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can sometimes be so overpowering that you can easily give in to your body’s need for a caffeine shot or two. Despite all the benefits of quitting caffeine, it requires a lot of will power to persevere through the common symptoms of headache, dizziness, constipation, irritability, lethargy, low concentration, confusion, and even depressed mood.

Here is what you can do to ease the withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Replace your favourite coffee mug with a new favourite water bottle that you can refill with water or herbal teas to refuel your energy and eliminate headaches caused by dehydration.
  2. Bullet Chicory Tea: This was my own saving grace on days 5 to 15 and continues to be my morning kick-starter!Recipe: Brew some Chicory Dandelion Dark Roast tea. In a high-powered blender, blend 1 tablespoon MCT oil with ½ teaspoon PURICA Cordyceps or PURICA Chaga powder with 1 cup strong brewed tea to increase energy and help regulate bowel movement.
  3. Sleep Better, Perform Better. Giving up caffeine might initially cause fatigue but with time, your sleep will improve along with your energy, mood, digestion and clarity of your skin. As you become less dependent on caffeine to boost your energy, your nervous system will recover from being constantly stimulated into overdrive and start feeling more energetic from better quality sleep and lower cortisol levels and inevitably, your performance will become better than before.
  4. Move it to lose it. Light exercise like walking and running can work wonders to boost your energy levels, improve mood and curb your caffeine cravings. You can also reduce your stress levels with healthy activities like yoga and meditation.
  5. Eat regular meals instead of gulping acidic coffee as a means to fill your stomach. Having low sugar, high fibre protein based meals and snacks will prevent your blood sugar level from falling dangerously low and help you thrive throughout the day. My clients love the new PURICA Purola granola bars and the equally new PURICA Power Vegan Protein Powder infused with Chaga mushrooms, which makes for great shakes and even simple water smoothies. They’re both great to use to replace mid-morning and afternoon coffee to revive their energy between meals.

The good news is the physical withdrawal period is relatively short. Based on your daily consumption of caffeine, the withdrawal symptoms may only last between 2 and 15 days to resolve. It can be tough, but it’s worth it!

Managing your cup(s) of coffee

Here’s a news flash: Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. If you’re like many who adore it via a delicious cup of coffee, I’m here to share with you some reasons why you may want to kick your coffee habit…or at least cut back on your caffeine intake.

I know it’s a sensitive topic because so many of us drink coffee as routine and we’ve done so for years. Yet only through eliminating coffee was I able to see the effect it had on my mood, energy, weight management, sleep and skin. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots between food and mood until you commit to an elimination and replacement nutrition plan. The good news is that the benefits of quitting caffeine become evident soon after you restrict your intake.

Here are a few ways in which saying goodbye to caffeinated foods and beverages can help you…

Balance Your Hormones

A bad diet is a key reason for hormonal imbalance. Caffeine causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Taking caffeine out of your dietary regime can help lower blood cortisol levels, increase the circulation of HGH and prevent insulin resistance. Balancing your hormones improves your overall health.

No More Headaches

Caffeine is one of the most common causes of headaches. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots around what causes you to have a headache, anxiety or an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. In my experience over the past 15 plus years as a wellness coach has shown me that most people don’t drink enough water. Since coffee is a diuretic, it isn’t so much the removal of caffeine but the increase in water that helps reduce and in some cases eliminate headaches, lower blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of anxiety. Drinking more water will also help with weight loss and improving the health of your skin!

Weight Loss

If you load your coffee with cream and sugar or regularly order blended coffee drinks, the average number of calories per cup ranges between 250 and 650 calories (depending on what you’re loading into your drink)!  These hidden sugars lead to an increase in body weight and a drop in blood sugar levels, which in turn will typically zap you of energy and increase cravings for a second cup. By cutting down on these caffeinated sugar bombs, you can attain your ideal fitness goals faster than you thought.

Clearer Skin

If you think caffeine might be affecting your skin adversely, you’re probably right!

Caffeine increases your body’s stress levels and triggers the fight or flight response to the adrenal glands to pump out stress hormones. Increased levels of cortisol can cause acne and breakouts. Replacing dehydrating coffee with pure water and fresh lemon will help hydrate the skin and purify the liver to clear your complexion from the inside out.  Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin.  Simply replace your morning coffee with a bottle of water and when you sit down to start working at your desk, reach for water instead of a second cup of coffee and you will notice an improvement in the texture of your skin within the first couple weeks.

Quitting caffeine is not easy, but it is possible. My next Blog will cover how to avoid irritability and depression that can come with withdrawal so you can persevere and see the benefits of quitting caffeine kick in.

Ensuring a “Healthy” Relationship

Ah, when you were single…you had a fixed routine of getting up, working out, making meals for yourself and getting to bed early for a good night sleep. The good old days…

Then you met someone, started eating out, drinking more, exercising less and before you knew it, the pounds crept up and settled in.

What happened to encouraging and inspiring one another to be more fit and healthy? How did you let their bad habits become yours? When did every Friday become pizza night rather than your favourite fitness class?

We all have the best intentions in relationships but the fact is, oftentimes couples enable each other’s bad habits and fall into a rut.

The good news is there are easy steps you can take to get back on track and become a stronger couple in many ways!

If your partner seems unsupportive when it comes to your health, it’s important to have an honest conversation and get to the bottom of why. Sometimes partners can feel threatened or jealous when you have a life outside of them. If they resent you for having fun without them, the easiest solution is to invite them along! Find a couple of activities that you both enjoy and sweat it out together.

When it comes to cooking and eating healthy, you can build a real closeness by cooking together or trying new restaurants together rather than defaulting to their favourite spot or yours.

Sometimes, as much as we want our partners to be as interested in everything that’s important to us, it just doesn’t work out that way…pardon the pun.

If you love getting up early, hitting the gym and starting your day with a nutritious breakfast and your partner prefers to sleep in and skip eating until noon, don’t give in to that.

Stand up for yourself. Get up, get ready and hit the road, without criticizing them for not having the same routine. The best way to inspire someone is through your actions not accusations. Be honest with your partner and let them know that your health and theirs is a top priority because you want to live the best life together. Always ask if they want to join you or if they have anything that they would like you to support.

Relationships should be holistically healthy. If you find yourself in a destructive, relationship or one that’s causing chronic stress that is limiting your body from building, remind yourself you don’t have to be.

Make sure you’re with someone who fits you! Or at least lets you be the healthiest you possible!

Your Metabolism and a Healthy Lifestyle

Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn’t have to slow as you age.

It’s true that we experience a decline of between 2 and 4 percent in our resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25. On average, we drop about five pounds of lean body mass per decade from age 25-65.

Yet it’s also true that these declines can be prevented by changing a few simple lifestyle habits. That’s because a slow metabolism is not age related; it is lifestyle related.

A decreased metabolism simply stems from a decrease in activity. That means an increase in activity can help increase your metabolism.

By making physical activity part of your daily regime, along with other smart lifestyle choices, you can rev your metabolism, keep your energy up and maintain an optimal weight and body composition late into life.

The more lean muscle mass you have, the better, especially later in life. When it comes to building and maintaining lean muscle mass, think of the saying “use it or lose it”. Performing a weight bearing routine 3-6 days per week stimulates your metabolism because muscle is metabolically active. You are not made to sit all day; so start moving and don’t blame weight gain on a slow metabolism.

It’s also smart living to support your active lifestyle with a balanced whole food diet. Many people are in fact undernourished and overstressed with fast food. If you’re feeling exhausted, rather than reaching for a caffeine or sugar fix to push through, try slowing down and supporting your cardiovascular system with some deep breathing before your meal to support proper digestion and micronutrient absorption.

The bottom line is: Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.

Do your best to stop filling up on empty calories and start loading up on alkaline and nutrient rich whole foods. If you have cravings, it’s because your body is starving for vitamins and nutrients. The quickest way to add vitamins to your diet is to eat produce.

If a food comes from a plant eat it. If it is made in a plant, don’t.

NOTE: I recommend you consider taking a metabolism-supporting supplement. High on my list are Carnitine and natural formulations such as PURICA Trimactiv Weight Control, PURICA Vitality Adrenal Support and PURICA Provascin Cardiovascular Support.

How to Add Perserverance To Your New Year’s Resolution

Many of us made a healthy New Year’s resolution; maybe to lose weight, quit smoking, drink less or workout more. Unfortunately by mid January more than 95% of New Years resolutions will be abandoned. So what can you do to make this year different than last year’s failed attempt at change?

First you must be honest, with yourself. If you don’t have the courage to ask yourself “Where do I need to change?” and then break the barrier of pride to make that change you are setting yourself up for failure. If you’re not sure what you need to change to achieve success are you willing to ask a coach or the people closest to you, “Where do I need to change?”

Once you’ve set your resolution to change take starting measurements and do a behavior assessment on day one to honestly evaluate where you are and know what you need to do. This is an important step because you can only manage what you measure. If you don’t know the measure of your health, you can’t develop and grow in health. You can only manage what you measure.

Here are some effective strategies to start a resolution any time of year and stay strong when you get the urge to splurge or hit the snooze button instead of the gym.

1. Start with just one thing. If you want to change your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.

2. Write your goals down and include their due dates to keep you accountable. People who put their goals on paper are up to 86% more likely to achieve them than those who merely think them. It’s also important to record your progress in any goal in a journal. If you’re going to set some health goals or any kind of goal, record your progress throughout the year so you can measure your growth and celebrate your success.

3.Don’t be a loser. Rather than saying ‘I’m going to lose ten pounds’, set behavioral goals like ‘This week I’ll go to the gym three times, take the stairs at work, and bring a healthy lunch every day rather than eating out. Focusing on what you will do rather than what you don’t want gives you an action plan to follow at times when willpower fades.

4. When you feel discouraged, remind yourself how much you’ve accomplished in the past to remind yourself you can achieve anything when you put your mind to it.

5.Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether. Perseverance is the key to success.

3 Ways to Avoid a Snaccident

Ever roam the aisles of a drug store looking for a protein bar or healthy snack that taste good, is satisfying, or will fuel you up for a workout, and isn’t full of mystery ingredients? It’s a scary scavenger hunt most of us have been on that results in an ugly snaccident! When you eat the wrong thing or opt to skip a meal altogether the end result isn’t pretty. As a Fitness Trainer, Pro Athlete and Nutritionist I have learned to create an arsenal of perfect on-the-go snacks to pack in your gym bag to fuel a busy day. Here are three of my favorites!

  1. I make my own Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls to keep on hand when I need a boost. They satisfy my sweet tooth and are great for pre- or post-workout. Try this simple, easy to make recipe: 1/2-cup oats, two scoops of Vegan Protein Powder. I use Sprouted Living Vegan Chocolate Maca Protein Powder, one medium banana *mashed, 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and 1/4 cup honey OR 2 Tablespoons Yacon syrup, mix the ingredients in a bowl, roll the balls in unsweetened coconut and cacao nibs. Done and done.
  1. I am totally on board with having raw nuts-as-fuel, but post workout I suggest pairing them with a serving of Low GI fruit. Almond nut butter with pureed frozen banana is one of my favorite desserts to replace an ice-cream craving. Pre-portioned nut butter packets or ¼ cup portion control container for loose nuts are a great way to make this snack portable and help avoid ‘over-nutting.’ OD-ing on nuts can cause weight gain with just a few quick fistfuls.
  1. After a workout is when I suggest a protein shake. Bring a single serving of protein powder with you to the gym to mix with water, coconut water, or a greens juice to provide a delicious convenient liquid snack needed to reload your muscles. Having a single serve of protein powder in iced coffee or iced tea is a great carry along when traveling or stuck in meetings, and food munching isn’t an option.

Isn’t it great to know healthy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated? You now have on-the-go eating covered and you didn’t even have to cook!

Remember; Keep your Friends close, and your snacks closer.

How To Combat Feeling SAD

During the winter months we tend to eat more sleep more and experience more ups and downs during the shorter days. Winter can cause some people to experience weight gain and a lack of energy but it can also bring on a form of clinical depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Research by the Mayo Clinic reports SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD than older adults. Living far from the equator and having family history of SAD or other forms of depression may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder.

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Cravings for sweets and starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
  • Noticeable drop in energy
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Oversleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating at work and at home
  • Irritability, Constant agitation and anxiety
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection
  • Hopelessness (including suicidal thoughts)

Don’t brush off these seasonal feelings as simple “winter blues” that you have to tough out or just shake off. Here are some effective remedies to keep your mood, motivation and movement up throughout the winter.

  • Exercise regularly, even in cold weather. A brisk walk outdoors can improve mood and help combat weight gain.
  • Physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety.
  • A healthy diet rich in Vit D, E and B
  • Light therapy is a common treatment for winter SAD. Light box therapy mimics outdoor light and can improve mood in as little as two weeks.
  • Decreased sunlight hours can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Supplementing your diet with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement can help regulate mood.
  • Mind-body therapies that may help relieve depression symptoms include: Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, Guided imagery and Massage therapy

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for several days or weeks at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, be sure to see your doctor.